Archive | October, 2014

Superhero movie mania! Marvel, DC announce multi-movie plans

29 Oct

black-panther-concept-artWhen the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was announced, I too made an announcement: I would refuse to watch in the theaters. It just seemed like a dumb movie. The trailer didn’t impress me. Nor was I familiar with the characters, and apparently many other people weren’t familiar with them either.

Familiarity didn’t matter. The movie finished as the highest grossing film of 2014, and the only film of the year to finish with over $300 million in domestic gross. It also was the third-highest grossing Marvel Studios film, behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

At this point, Marvel Studios could make a movie about Howard the Duck and make millions. Heck, they could make a movie about you and people would flock to the theaters. They have the Midas touch and they know it.

Two days ago, Marvel Studios stole the Apple script by renting out the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to make public product announcements. They announced that, as part of its “Phase 3” schedule, they have eight films in the pipeline with firm release dates. For those unfamiliar (like I was prior to their announcement), here are the Phase 1 and Phase 2 list of films:

Phase 1 (six films):

  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Avengers

Phase 2 (also six films):

  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy
  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015)
  • Ant-Man (Jul 17, 2015)

Phase 3 is eight films (Marvel counts the two parts of Avengers 3 as one film):

  • Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
  • Doctor Strange (Nov 4, 2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (Jul 28, 2017)
  • Black Panther (Nov 3 2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 (May 4, 2018)
  • Captain Marvel (the female version) (Jul 6, 2018)
  • Inhumans (Nov 2, 2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 (May 3, 2019)

age of ultronMarvel has a clear road map of how all the characters will interconnect in their movies. For example, people at the Marvel Studios event saw a clip from Avengers: Age of Ultron that showed serious tension between Cap and Tony Stark, which—along with the nation in ruins after the super-fighting of Avengers 1 & 2—feeds easily into the Civil War storyline in Captain America 3. Though the title of the film is Captain America: Civil War, there will be a lot of Iron Man in the film too, as Robert Downey Jr. confirmed his casting. [Incidentally, for The Winter Soldier, CinemaSins listed the multiple references to Iron Man during the movie but lack of any actual Iron Man appearances—despite the destruction of a big swath of Washington D.C.—as sinful.]

Also, Black Panther will make an appearance the Civil War movie before his solo movie and is rumored to play the “which side will I choose” role that Spider-Man played in the comics version of the storyline (since Marvel Studios doesn’t own the rights to Spider-Man). Also rumored is that the Avengers will team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Meanwhile, Sony announced one confirmed Marvel movie of its own: Sinister Six, set to release Nov 11, 2016 (featuring Dr. Octopus, Vulture, Green Goblin, Rhino, Kraven the Hunter, and Mysterio). Apparently, these villains will team up with a re-cast Spider-Man to fight an unknown larger threat. Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which was originally scheduled for Jun 10, 2016, has been pushed back to an unspecified date in 2018 after the lackluster box office for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Incidentally, I had been a vocal critic of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 while actors were still being cast, saying it would likely fail due to having too much going on. After watching the film, critics criticized it, saying (surprise, surprise) it had too much going on.

Recent rumors that Sony may sell the rights to Spidey back to Marvel Studios. Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios head, did not debunk the rumors, saying rather vaguely that it “is either not true at all or still rumor until it’s worked out.” The fact that Feige did not stop at the former but also added the latter has the internet somewhat abuzz about the possibility of the iconic character joining the studio with the Midas touch. Feige did say in 2012 that “clearly we would prefer everything (in this case, Spider-Man) be at home, so to speak,” and admitted there is “no doubt that Spider-Man is the most well-known (Marvel character),” so the comment about things being “worked out” could be a sign that Marvel Studios and Sony are in some sort of negotiations. Back in 2013, Ain’t It Cool News reported that Sony co-chair Amy Pascal said she would “never ever ever” let go of the Spider-Man franchise. And even though Amazing Spider-Man 2 underwhelmed at the domestic box office, it still earned a very healthy $709 million worldwide, So before Spidey fans get excited at the possibility of Marvel Studios getting its hands on the web-slinger, Marvel Studios would have to fork over a lot of money before Sony is willing to let go of such a lucrative film franchise.

Finally in Marvel news, Warner Bros is reporting five Marvel-related movies to come:

  • Fantastic Four – Jun 19, 2015
  • X-Men: Apocalypse – May 18, 2016
  • Wolverine 3 – Mar 3, 2017
  • Fantastic Four 2 – Jul 14, 2017
  • unknown – Jul 13, 2018

I’m staying far, far away from the Fantastic Four reboot—like ebola. I won’t even watch the movie when it comes out on DVD. Casting the white Johnny Storm character with a black actor is sacrilege. Or worse, stupid sacrilege. It’s a MUCH bigger deal than changing Nick Fury to a black character because Nick Fury is a minor character in the Marvel universe. The Human Torch, however, is one of the most familiar comics characters of all time. You don’t change the identity of such a major character. I’m not alone on this minor insight either. Commenter mongoose wrote: “I can only hope that the FF reboot falls on its face so hard, FF2 will be scrapped in lieu of something else (ANYTHING else).” It’s like Marvel letting a woman become Thor—stupid.

Oh, by the way, Fox announced a Deadpool movie expected Feb 12, 2016.

As for DC, two weeks ago, DC announced a slate of 11 movies through 2020 (not including future stand-alone Batman & Superman movies):

  • Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Justice League, Part 1 (2017)
  • The Flash (2018)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam (2019)
  • Justice League, Part 2 (2018)
  • Cyborg (2019)
  • Green Lantern (2020)

However, unlike Marvel, DC reportedly does not have a concrete plan for building a cohesive universe through all its various planned movies.

Last but not least, Lego Batman gets his own star turn in “The Lego Batman Movie” in 2017, followed by presumably another cameo in “The Lego Movie 2” in 2018.

Superhero movie infographic

Superhero movie infographic

Whew! That’s a lot of superhero movies in the next 5 years…about 29 if you count the animated Big Hero 6 from Disney! There’s already speculation about superhero fatigue, superhero overload, comic book bubble, etc. but as long as the movies tell good stories, I don’t think superhero movies will become a bust anytime soon.

I do hope, however, that these movies won’t fuzz the line between good and evil. What makes superheroes so attractive among any generation of children (and yes, adults) is the draw that bad things get their just reward and good will prevail. It brings out hope. There’s enough despair in the real world that we don’t need to see despair in our entertainment. Superhero movies are escapist forms of entertainment. Talk of superheroes dying in future movies is cause for concern. The superhero bubble will burst if the good guys don’t win in the end. If they do win in the end, then bring on all 29 superhero movies!

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Sign of the times: Trump Tower sign reveals more Rahm Emanuel hypocrisy

18 Oct

Trump Tower signBack in June 2014, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel ripped the sign on Trump Tower which spelled out Trump’s name as being “tasteless” and—despite the city already having approved the signage—declared he would seek any possibilities of forcing its removal.

Mayor Emanuel believes this is an architecturally tasteful building scarred by an architecturally tasteless sign,” spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. “The sign – which was already reduced in size and scope – does comply with the provisions of the planned development ordinance and the City Council sign order, but he has asked his staff to determine if there are any options available for further changes.”

Then in September 2014, King Emanuel announced a new city ordinance that would prevent future Trump-like signs along the Chicago River.

The fact that people bothered to critique the sign is, well, a sign of the times (pun fully intended). For liberals, you are NOT entitled to your opinion if it contradicts my opinion because my opinion is always right. So the liberal Emanuel, emboldened by a critique of the sign by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, decided to take the conservative Trump to task for his sign.

James_R_Thompson_Center_behind_Chicago_City_Hall

The spaceship-styled Thompson center nestled among traditional buildings in downtown Chicago

Remember, Emanuel decried the sign as “architecturally tasteless.” Aside from signs that may be phallic in imagery, the phrase “architecturally tasteless” is completely subjective. Building architecture, by definition, is often viewed as “works of art,” and art is wholly subjective. Some people love Vincent Van Gogh’s style of art and loathe Pablo Picasso’s style, and vice-versa…while still others may love both. There is no standard when it comes to art. So what Emanuel perceives as “architecturally tasteless” may be perceived as “architecturally tasteful” to others (like me).

Predictably, Emanuel did what liberals love to do: create more legislation and rules. What these liberals don’t realize is that while such legislation is consistent with their worldview, it is inconsistent with the real world. For example, Kamin’s issue with the metal signage on the Trump building is that it clashes with the “cluster of 1920s skyscrapers” and might spoil the view for the city’s Riverwalk. But look at the picture above of the James R. Thompson Center in downtown. The all-glass exterior evokes a definite modern feel reminiscent of a spaceship, yet it is next-door neighbors to many traditional stone buildings built in the 1900s and 1910s. If Emanuel were to be consistent, he would blast the Thompson Center for being “architecturally tasteless” too and push legislation that would ban modern buildings sitting next to traditional buildings.

Of course, anyone with Minor Insights would see how ridiculous an argument that is. Yet it is the same ridiculous logic that Emanuel uses to conveniently blast the Trump sign.

The Loews building has a name

The Loews building has a name

But wait…there’s more.

There are plenty of signs on riverfront buildings. Look on the left photo. It’s a shot of a building that says “Loews” on it, right along the river. Logically speaking, it too clashes with the “cluster of 1920s skyscrapers” and could spoil the view for the city’s Riverwalk. Did Emanuel blast Loews? Yeah, I missed that press conference too.

The Westin Hotel prominently displays its name

The Westin Hotel prominently displays its name

How about this photo on the right? It’s a shot of the Westin Hotel, right along the river. Logically speaking, it also has a name attached to it, just as Trump’s does. Did Emanuel take Westin to task? Hm, I don’t recall him ever blasting Westin either.

There are other buildings along the river with names on them but I don’t have room to display all the photos in this post. But I took these two shots right next to the Trump tower…which somehow draws all the attention despite neighbors that do the same thing Trump did.

Some liberals howl that it’s the size of the sign that is so offensive. They argue that the sign takes up nearly 2,900 square feet and half-jokingly say that the sign is big in order to match Trump’s ego.

What these liberals don’t realize is that the Trump building contains 2.6 million square feet of floor space. A 2,900 square foot sign on the second tallest building in the western hemisphere is merely one-tenth of one percent (0.001) of the size of the building. If you view the infamous letters in person, it actually looks very proportionate to the size of the mammoth building from which the letters hang. This is cause for a new city ordinance?

The bottom line

Emanuel’s clash with Trump has nothing to do with architecture but everything to do with ideology and political worldviews. As a liberal, Emanuel jumped at any opportunity to try to dump on the conservative Trump. Whether you are a liberal, conservative or moderate, the facts are the facts. And just as ABC7 revealed that the hypocrisy that Emanuel’s motorcade “regularly” runs red lights and speeds (AND has all those tickets thrown out) despite his public comments about the importance of not running red lights and speeding for safety purposes, the facts here show that hypocrisy again reigned in Emanuel’s lame attempt to diss Trump.

Tangential note: after Emanuel was caught by ABC7 for running red lights, Emanuel put a nice public spin on it, saying that he told his drivers: “I said, ‘Follow the law, nobody’s above the law, slow down, period.” But several months later, ABC7 caught Emanuel’s motorcade violating the law eight more times! What a bold, two-faced hypocrite. Emanuel, who—in another display of hypocrisy—didn’t even meet the city residence requirements before running for mayor, is easily the worst mayor Chicago has ever seen, which is saying something.